For the first 18 years of my life I grew up in the same home in rural-suburban Maryland, surrounded by the same people and places that I always knew. But when it came time to attend college, I chose UC Santa Barbara without hesitation - even though it was over 3,000 miles away. When I first arrived, I came in not knowing anyone and feeling truly alone. However, I was determined to adjust to the move and picked up a few tips over time that helped make Santa Barbara truly feel like my new home. Whether you’re moving from another country or just a few cities away, making the transition to college can pose challenges for anyone. Hopefully, these tips can help you with the process of starting a new adventure.
1. Bring only the essentials.
Packing only what you need removes a lot of the hassle involved in air travel. Don’t forget, you can always ship your bulkier belongings and buy extra items once you arrive.
2. Research resources and student networks on campus.
Before you arrive, it may be helpful to look into the multitude of organizations and activities available on campus. Club fairs are typically held early in the academic year and can be a great way to explore your opportunities. Getting familiar with other student resources such as academic advising and mental health centers could also help make the adjustment to campus easier.
3. Get involved on campus early.
Building off of the last tip, getting involved in a club or student network early on is a great way to meet new people who share common interests. Older students can be a great resource for getting to know the campus better. In my experience, I joined a campus organization during my first quarter and was able to meet so many people that I would have otherwise never known and take advantage of countless more opportunities than if I had just stayed in my comfort zone.
4. Meet other out-of-state students.
Facebook groups, GroupMe, and even just introducing yourself to people can help you find other out-of-state students who are likely experiencing similar feelings as you are. Having even one or two friends who shared this common ground helped me feel less alone in the whole process.
5. Explore the area.
If possible, try to explore not only the campus but also the whole college town. Becoming familiar with the area better helps in the process of making your new campus feel like home. Going with roommates and other friends is also a great way to bond and get closer to people. Many schools have public transportation services that make getting around easy and inexpensive.
6. Remember that you’re only one call or text away from friends and family.
Before you leave for college, try to schedule a regular call or video chat with friends and family members every week or two. Although it is not a cure for homesickness, keeping in touch with people from home can definitely help with feelings of loneliness.
7. Be patient with yourself.
Regardless of how far you move, everyone experiences the transition to college differently. It is important to be patient and forgiving with yourself if you struggle along the way. Moving alone and far from home takes a lot of risks, but taking advantage of as many opportunities as you can makes the process more than worth it.